Report on a Boston University Conference December 7–8, 2012 on How Can the History and Philosophy of Science Contribute to Contemporary US Science Teaching?
This is an editorial report on the outcomes of an international conference sponsored by a grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) (REESE-1205273) to the School of Education at Boston University and the Center for Philosophy and History of Science at Boston University for a conference titled: How Can the History and Philosophy of Science Contribute to Contemporary US Science Teaching? The presentations of the conference speakers and the reports of the working groups are reviewed. Multiple themes emerged for K-16 education from the perspective of the history and philosophy of science. Key ones were that: students need to understand that central to science is argumentation, criticism, and analysis; students should be educated to appreciate science as part of our culture; students should be educated to be science literate; what is meant by the nature of science as discussed in much of the science education literature must be broadened to accommodate a science literacy that includes preparation for socioscientific issues; teaching for science literacy requires the development of new assessment tools; and, it is difficult to change what science teachers do in their classrooms. The principal conclusions drawn by the editors are that: to prepare students to be citizens in a participatory democracy, science education must be embedded in a liberal arts education; science teachers alone cannot be expected to prepare students to be scientifically literate; and, to educate students for scientific literacy will require a new curriculum that is coordinated across the humanities, history/social studies, and science classrooms.
KeywordsScience Education Science Teacher Science Classroom Science Content Participatory Democracy
The authors gratefully acknowledge the assistance of Emily Allen and Thomas Hunt, Doctoral Fellows in the School of Education at Boston University, and Dr. Charles Winrich, Director of Science at Babson College, for their readings of drafts of this manuscript. For the logistics of the conference organization itself, we are greatly indebted to Thomas Hunt. It was his organizational skills that allowed us to maintain a database of all the invitees and eventual conferees. Mr. Hunt further designed and created the conference website, organized the video recording, obtained the permissions, and uploaded the conference video and PowerPoint presentations. The conference was funded by a conference grant from the United States National Science Foundation (NSF) from the Division of Research and Learning, (REESE-1205273). We are grateful to the program officers of NSF for their recommendations of conferees.
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